Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…
“Right Where We Left It”
By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler
Rosalyn was already up, dressed, and sitting at the dining table when Captain Reginald Bain emerged from the bedroom in the quarters he shared with his wife. The sharing was a relatively recent development, but after years, decades really, of only seeing Rosalyn on his all-too-brief leaves from Starfleet, Bain was ecstatic to have her with him on the Anomaly. As silly as it sounded after almost half a century of marriage, he felt like a newlywed again.
Bain walked up behind his wife, who was intently reading a padd, and kissed her on the top of her head. “You’re up early,” he said.
“Force of habit,” Rosalyn replied, leaning her head back and giving her husband a proper kiss on the lips. “Did you sleep well?”
“Wonderfully,” Bain said. “There’s just something about having you beside me.”
Rosalyn smiled. “Maybe we should have done this years ago.”
“Tut tut, my darling. No regrets. We’ve both had full pasts, and we’re moving into a new chapter. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“Have you eaten?” Bain asked as he stepped over to the replicator.
“Oh yes,” Rosalyn said. “I can see you’ve had a few of your favorites added to the selections.” She gestured to the centerpiece on the dining table. “And the flowers are lovely.”
“They’re passable,” Bain said. “ Still not like growing them at home, but I’ve been tinkering with the arboretum bit by bit until I get it right…or as close as I can.”
He pulled a plate out of the replicator and sat down next to his wife. “Anything interesting?” He asked, looking at the padd.
“Not really. Just looking over the news. I had a comm waiting from Sophie this morning, though.”
“Really?” Bain said after gulping down at bit of egg. “How is she?”
“Busy as ever. She wanted to see how I was settling in and make sure you were all right. Did you know she petitioned the Starfleet JAG to let her come to Breen and defend you?”
“She’s a dear,” Bain said. “I wouldn’t have wanted her to do that, though.”
“She knows. But she’s your daughter. She was going to do it anyway. Oh she wanted to know if we’d be anywhere near Vega Two in June. It’s Tyler’s high school graduation.”
“Already?” Bain asked. “I say! Seems like only yesterday he was toddling through our living room chasing after Tovar.”
“He’s almost eighteen. And Rose won’t be far behind him.”
“I’ll make sure we’re there,” Bain said. “And make sure to say something to Tovar. I’m sure he’d love to see his niece and nephew again.”
“He could invite Shelly along,” Rosalyn said.
“Shelly. Marsden. His ladyfriend.”
“Ah. Yes. Good old Marsie. Certainly, she could come.”
“Reginald. You are aware that they are together?”
“Of course I am!” Bain said. “I’m the one who told you!”
“Yes, but you don’t seem to have digested how serious their relationship is.”
“The only thing I’m digesting right now is my breakfast, my dear.”
“It’s just something you may want to keep in mind.”
“Rosalyn, I assure you that I have and I do. But this isn’t the Academy, dear. We’re in the thick of things out here, and Tovar and Marsden are both officers under my command. I cannot, and I will not let their relationship affect the way I do my job. Just as I trust it won’t affect the way they do theirs.”
“I see,” Rosalyn replied. She patted Bain on the arm. “You’re sweet.”
“You love them both and don’t want either of them to get hurt. But there’s nothing you can do, so you’re keeping a professional distance.”
“Where did you get that from?”
“Fifty years of loving Reginald Bain,” Rosalyn said, giving her husband another kiss.
“You’re a wonder, my dear. Do you know that?”
Rosalyn grinned. “I have some idea.”
“Thank you for coming with me,” Lieutenant Shelly Marsden said, squeezing Lieutenant Commander Tovar’s hand a bit more tightly. “I know this isn’t exactly your idea of a good time.”
“Whatever would give you that idea?” Tovar asked.
“Does hiding in the arboretum ring any bells?”
“I told you that story, did I? Of course it didn’t matter. He found me anyway.”
“He’s a bit scary that way,” Marsden said as they approached the doors to their destination.
“And in many others. But I would not allow you to go through this alone,” Tovar replied. With one last reassuring glance at each other, they stepped through the entrance to sickbay, where they were met by an excited cry from the Anomaly’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Fred Nooney.
“Yay! You’re right on time!” Nooney said, rushing up to Marsden. “You wouldn’t believe how rarely that happens.”
“You’re kidding,” Marsden said flatly.
“These physicals are only once a year. You’d think people could show up when they’re scheduled.” Nooney looked over at Tovar. “Did you need help, too?”
“I am also here for my physical. I…came early.”
“Now THAT’S being responsible!” Nooney said. “Nurse! Nurse Ih’vik!”
The Anomaly’s Andorian nurse stalked out of a back room. “What?” she demanded. “I was eating my lunch!” The large chunk of grayish-blue…something at the corner of her mouth made that much apparent.
“Can you perform a physical on Mister Tovar for me please? I’d hate to keep him waiting while I see to Lieutenant Marsden here.”
“My lunch is waiting,” Ih’vik groused. “Approach, Yynsian!”
Tovar looked to Marsden again. They had discussed the possibility that Nooney might call on Ih’vik, but they did not count on her being in a bad mood (which was admittedly foolish of them considering that she was Andorian, after all). Even so, an angry Ih’vik was still preferable to Nooney. “I would prefer…Doctor Nooney,” Tovar said, uttering what was perhaps the biggest lie he’d ever told in his life.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Ih’vik said. “Human!” she called, pointing at Marsden. Marsden brushed past Tovar, whispering “I owe you” as she went where she was summoned.
Indeed she did, Tovar thought, following Nooney over to a biobed. Not that he was doing this to get into her debt. He was willing to face Nooney just to make sure that Marsden did not have to. To an outsider, it all probably seemed kind of silly, but then an outsider wouldn’t know about Fred Nooney or his idea of a physical. For Tovar, making this sacrifice was nothing short of a extreme show of his love for Marsden.
“Okay!” Nooney said, clapping his hands together as they arrived at the biobed. “Strip for me!”
Two hours later, it was all over but the trauma. That would linger for a bit.
“You sure you don’t want your lollipop?” Marsden asked.
Tovar shook his head with a shudder. “No, thank you,” he said.
Marsden wrapped her arm around Tovar’s waist. “I love you. You know that?”
“I love you, too. Very much.”
“I know,” Marsden said, putting her head on his shoulder. “Somebody’s got a big thank you coming.”
“No thanks are necessary,” Tovar said. “Not that I would turn it down.”
“I didn’t think you would,” Marsden said. “You hungry?”
“Right. Never mind.”
“I will go with you if you’re hungry, though.”
“I’ve pretty much got you following me everywhere, huh?” Marsden said with a chuckle.
“I do seem to find you irresistible.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Far far from it,” Tovar replied.
They soon arrived in the Anomaly’s holographic mess hall and immediately wished they’d brought sunglasses. A faux sun blazed down with all too real warmth onto a white sand beach. The only sign of food was a small snack shack, beyond which was a jungle of palm trees.
“Ooookay,” Marsden said perusing the very limited menu which consisted of hot dogs, nachos, and sodas. “Is the holochef feeling lazy?”
“Special request, mon,” the dreadlocked occupant of the snack shack said.
“I didn’t realize requests were accepted,” Tovar said.
“SPECIAL request,” the shack clerk repeated, pointing toward the shoreline were a lone woman lay stretched out on a beach towel sunbathing in a white bikini.
“Ah,” Tovar said, recognizing Dr. Natalia Kasyov. Considering that until fairly recently she was the ship’s computer, it was understandable that the holochef would be willing to grant her desires.
“I’m going to…” Marsden began.
“Of course,” Tovar said. “Should I get you anything?”
“Um…one of everything, I guess.”
“Really? All three items?” Tovar replied deadpan.
Marsden shot him a grin then headed over to Kasyov.
“Nice spot,” she said, sitting down in the sand beside her friend.
“Yeah,” Kasyov said. “Lunch and a tan.”
Marsden squinted up at the sun. “You’ve got UV coming out of that thing?”
“Yes. I needed it after being hooked up to the computer for that long.”
“You look fine.”
Kasyov shook her head. “Too pale. Too many scars.”
“What scars?” Marsden asked, looking her up and down. “I don’t see a scratch on you. I don’t think Nooney would have let you out of sickbay with marks. He’s anal like that.”
Kasyov just grunted.
They sat in silence for several moments.
“How’s Cabral?” Marsden asked finally.
“Okay. Fine, actually. He’s more than ready to pretend this never happened.”
“Was it that bad?”
“You’ve never been that close to someone,” Kasyov said.
“Tovar and I are close.”
“Not like this. Cabral and I…it was like being in a permanent Vulcan mind meld. We were the same person. Every thought. Every memory.”
“Wasn’t that what you wanted?” Marsden asked.
“I was wrong. Nobody should be that close. Imagine if Tovar could suddenly see every detail of every night you ever spent with another man. And how would you like to have that information about him. Since you’d be in his mind, it would be like being him during the… Do you want to be that close to Prosak?”
Marsden winced. “Uh…no.”
“And that’s just the tip of it. Every stray thought you ever had in anger, he’d know. Every feeling you ever had. It’s…”
“Too close,” Marsden said.
“Exactly. If I didn’t get some distance, it was going to destroy us. Literally. The last thing this ship needs is a computer that can’t get along with the anti-singularity drive regulator. You wouldn’t be able to fix that mess, Shelly.”
“I’m an engineer, not a psychologist.”
“And I’m not a computer.”
“If it counts for anything, I prefer you this way,” Marsden said. “But…what was it like?”
“Running the ship? Eh, not bad. Most things were handled automatically. I didn’t have to think about it. Like how we don’t think about the blood being pumped around our body. Being able to see what was happening everywhere on the Anomaly at once took some getting used to. And learning how to block some things out. I mean, I saw everything.”
“Yeah. And, may I say, good for you,” Kasyov flashing a grin at Marsden.
“I know,” Marsden said, returning the smile before glancing over at Tovar, who was seated at a picnic table near the snack shack nibbling on her nachos. “I think I got the better end of this deal.”
“Come on, Shelly. You’re beautiful.”
“I’m too short. Too stocky. Too…” She shook her head. “I’m no Prosak.”
“He slept with her once. And what’s so great about Prosak anyway?”
“That long black hair. Thin, graceful build. Nice breasts. She’s gorgeous.”
“She’s obviously not what Tovar wants.”
“I know,” Marsden said, her smile returning. “How’d that happen?”
“I don’t know. Personally I think you built a mind control device and you zap him with it every night. You can’t trust an engineer.”
“And you should go be with Tovar.”
“I’m fine. Go on. Your lunch is getting cold. Thanks for coming over, though.”
“Always,” Marsden said. She gave Kasyov’s hand a squeeze then got up, brushed the sand off of her pants, and headed over to join Tovar.
“Is Natalia okay?” Tovar asked.
“Yeah. She’s good,” Marsden said. She took a bite out of her hot dog then immediately spat it back out. “Wish I could say the same for her taste in food.”
He could get very used to this, Reginald Bain thought as he rode the turbolift to the Anomaly’s bridge. Since Rosalyn had arrived on board, Bain felt more relaxed than he had…well, ever on a starship. He’d spent the day with her just enjoying her company and now he was heading up to command beta shift in an incredibly good mood. Commander Vioxx had grumbled a little bit when Bain had suggested rotating the command schedule to get Prosak off of Gamma shift and onto Alpha for a bit, while Bain rotated to Beta and Vioxx to Gamma. It only seemed fair to Bain, though. There was no reason for Prosak to always take the late night duty shift.
The turbolift slowed to a halt several decks shy of the bridge, and doors opened admitting Tovar.
“Tovar, my lad!” Bain exclaimed. “What brings you down to these parts? I thought you would be on the bridge.”
“I traded shifts with Nortal so that I could accompany Lieutenant Marsden to sickbay.”
“Sickbay?” Bain said. “Nothing serious, I hope?”
“No. Just her annual physical. I had mine as well.”
“It’s a bit early for you, isn’t it?”
Bain nodded. His conversation with Rosalyn at breakfast drifted back into his mind. Perhaps he had been taking the wrong tack with Tovar’s relationship with Marsden. Yes, they were officers under his command, but Tovar was still his son.
“So…is everything going well? With Marsie, I mean. I think she’s absolutely tip-top. You know that, right?”
Tovar stared at him for a moment, obviously surprised that the conversation had gone in this direction.
“Um…yes, father. I know you think very highly of her. And…we are fine.”
“Good. Good,” Bain said, rocking back and forth a bit on his heels. Now what? Damn, this was bloody awkward. “Good.”
“Yes, it is,” Tovar said.
“We should have you both round for dinner.” Oh Great Bird, why had he said that? Rosalyn would be all for it, of course, but he wouldn’t want to put Marsie in that position. Having dinner with your commanding officer could be strange enough, but add in dinner with your boyfriend’s parents? It was a terrible idea.
“Perhaps” was all Tovar said in response, though Bain was certain he was going through the same mental calculations Bain just had.
The turbolift arrived at their destination, putting an end to the discussion, and none too soon for Bain’s tastes. They stepped out onto the Anomaly’s bridge, Tovar heading over to relieve Nortal at Tac-Ops as Bain approached Prosak, who was vacating the command chair.
“Good afternoon, Captain,” the RommaVulc said flatly. She was doing better than usual today with the unemotional bit.
“Afternoon, Prosak,” Bain said, resisting the urge to give her a warm pat on the shoulder. That always seemed to break her concentration and draw a smile out of her. “Anything we should know about?”
“I was just about to comm you, actually. We just received orders from Starfleet Command diverting us to Meulopo Three.”
Bain frowned. “Meulopo?” He glanced back at Tovar, who shrugged. “Can’t say I’m familiar with that system. Where the devil is it?”
“In the Beta Quadrant near the galactic rim,” Prosak said, typing a few commands into the panel on the armrest of the First Officer’s chair and bringing a galactic map up on the main viewscreen with the Anomaly’s and Meulopo III’s locations highlighted.
“Not to question Command, but that’s a bit outside our usual stomping grounds, isn’t it?”
“Yes. A Federation deep space exploration craft sent a distress comm from that location. Even at Ultraspace speeds, the comm was three days old when it reached Starfleet.”
“So now they need the fastest ship in the fleet,” Bain said.
“That they do.”
“Right!” Bain said, clapping his hands together. “Then let’s not disappoint them. Bridge to Cabral.”
“I am here, Captain,” the Anomaly’s resident alien brain-in- a-sphere replied from his housing in Science Lab Four.
“We’ve got a rescue situation on our hands, old chum. I’m going to need all the horses you can give me.”
“I am sorry, Captain. Horses?”
“Speed, Cabral. People are in trouble and we’ve got about 85,000 light years to cross to reach them.”
“I understand. I believe I can give you Warp P for extended periods as long as Lieutenant Marsden feels the engines are up for it.”
“I’m sure she’ll keep them in line. Thank you, Cabral. Bridge out,” Bain said, turning his attention to the conn. “Zantak, lay in a course for the Meulopo system and engage at Warp P.”
“Yes, sir,” the Romulan woman at the helm replied simply, setting to her work, not that there was much work to do. She had anticipated the course and speed based on the conversation occurring behind her. It was not exactly a surprise.
The Anomaly turned gracefully under her guidance, then shot forward, vanishing in a flash as Cabral activated the anti- singularity drive.
This was the hard part.
Rosalyn Bain had worried that she would find living on a starship to be confining, but she’d been happy to discover that the Anomaly was more like a small town. The crew had all been friendly to her and seemed to see her as a welcome addition rather than an invader.
And Reginald was his usual boisterous and loving self. Admittedly she had wondered if the man she knew in their home was the same when he was commanding the Anomaly. She had heard of people who had very different personalities between their personal and professional lives. Certainly she could be accused of being one such person. But she was pleased to learn that Reginald was Reginald no matter the environment, not that she should have been surprised. Her husband had never been one to hide behind a facade. That was one of the things she loved about him and quite a refreshing switch from the circles in which she usually moved.
So her adjustment to life with Reginald on the Anomaly had been fairly smooth. The hard part was dealing with the fact that she was supposed to be retired. At only 72 she was rather young to be retired anyway, but leading a double life as a Section 31 agent had been rather trying. Still, as happy as she told herself she was to leave all of that behind, she couldn’t help feeling drawn to the comm device currently secreted in a drawer in the bedroom she shared with her husband.
She was fine for most of the day, but when Reginald was gone for his bridge shifts, Rosalyn found it difficult not to pull out the device just so she could get a sense of what was really happening in the universe. Most of the time she would try to content herself with more traditional news feeds instead, but now that the Anomaly was three days into their rescue mission deep in the Beta Quadrant and outside of the range of the broadcasts, that source of information was gone. The book she had been reading was not holding her interest, and she’d never been one for watching filmed entertainments or indulging in holopods. Her real life had been exciting enough to make such things feel ridiculous.
In a moment of weakness, she tossed the padd she was holding aside, practically leapt off of the sofa, and had made it four strides toward the bedroom before she caught herself.
She knew that if she even dipped a proverbial toe back into the world of Section 31, it wouldn’t be long before she was back in it all the way. This had to be a clean break.
And she needed to find something else to do. Fast.
Heading over to the terminal on the living area’s small desk (which, conveniently, was on the opposite end of the room from the door leading into their bedroom), Rosalyn did a quick check of the ship for signs of interesting activities. Admittedly, this check involved using the unauthorized use of the internal sensors and cameras; however, the Section 31 backdoor into the systems that she used ensured that no one would notice (Okay. So maybe it wasn’t a perfectly clean break, but she was trying). Very little caught her eye until she brought up the smaller of the Anomaly’s two gymnasiums. A smile spread slowly across her face.
Now THAT looked like fun.
Ten minutes later, Rosalyn passed through the doors to Gym-B to find that the game was still in progress.
“Prozi!” Centurion Nortal cried, slamming a dark blue ball into one of a pair of long silver cylinders just wider than said ball which were mounted to the deck and standing about half her height.
“Check again,” Sub-Commander Remax huffed from the opposite side of the gym where another pair of cylinders stood. In his hands was an identical blue ball.
“Betrayal!” Nortal screamed.
“That’s the way the game goes.”
“No. I am the betrayer! I knew you would turn on me and switch the ball, so I switched them before you made the switch. You gave me the Game Ball back! I say again, Prozi!”
Remax’s eyes darted down to the ball in his hands. He turned it until a small red dot came into view.
“Son of a n’val!”
“Could we get back to the game here?” Commander Vioxx said.
“I don’t want to be on her team anymore,” Remax said.
“You haven’t been on it yet!” Nortal retorted.
Vioxx exchanged a look with his teammate, Zantak, who shook her head and rolled her eyes.
“Room for a fifth?” Rosalyn asked, taking a few steps more steps into the room. The four Romulans all whipped around toward her.
“Mrs. Bain,” Vioxx said, recovering first. “This is…a surprise.”
“I could have commed first, I suppose, but I didn’t want to interrupt.”
“Ah. Well…please don’t take this the wrong way, but juoni ball is a rather fast-paced game.”
“And you don’t know the rules,” Remax added, obviously less concerned about how Rosalyn took what he said. “We’re here to relax, not train the elderly.”
“I believe you are a fair amount older than I am,” Rosalyn said.
“I’m not a human.”
“Very well. If you feel so strongly about it, I will assist Commander Vioxx and Sub-Lieutenant Zantak.”
“By all means,” Remax replied with a smirk. He slammed the Deception Sphere into the cylinder closest to him and called for the computer to reset the game. The activation of a transporter was audible as the two orbs were shuffled around the cylinders. Shortly thereafter, the balls were shot into the air. All five players went into motion. Rosalyn leapt in front of Remax, intercepting the ball heading his way, then landed nimbly, tossing the ball over her shoulder to Vioxx as she did so. Vioxx almost didn’t recover in time to catch the ball, amazed as he was at Rosalyn’s speed and agility. One pass down, eight to go. He looked for Zantak, who was currently pursuing Nortal across the court. The Centurion was rapidly spinning the ball she held around to see whether it was the Game Ball or the Deception Sphere.
Vioxx saw Rosalyn moving in as well. “Zantak!” he shouted, drawing both the Sub-Lieutenant’s and Nortal’s attention. In the moment of distraction, Rosalyn slapped the ball in Nortal’s hands upwards, sending it flying into the air, as Zantak changed direction and moved to receive a throw from Vioxx. Nortal hesitated for a moment, unsure of which of the two balls to go for, and ended up too late for either of them as Rosalyn snagged one ball out of the air as Zantak caught the other.
“Sanlerak!” Rosalyn called, rushing toward Vioxx as Zantak did the same.
“By Jenechai, she knows the Sanlerak Strategem!” Nortal exclaimed as Rosalyn, Vioxx, and Zantak got into a close triangular formation and quickly passed the two balls between themselves to get in the requisite nine passes before scoring could occur.
“No? Really?” Remax shot back angrily. “Get in there!”
If juoni ball were a traditional team sport, events from here would be fairly straightforward for Vioxx, Rosalyn, and Zantak. They would complete the passes, identify which ball was the Game Ball, then the one who ended up with the game ball after the ninth pass would rush over to the nearest cylinder and score. If they were really coordinated, whoever had the Deception Sphere would race off first as a decoy or possibly second, since the other team might believe that the first one to leave with a ball was actually a decoy and wait for the second one, in which case the best strategy would actually be to leave the decoy behind. Okay, so maybe it’s not that straightforward.
Juoni ball is not a traditional team sport, though. Yes, the players are on teams, but it has an individual winner. The 100 points for putting the Game Ball in a cylinder, known as the Prozi, go to the player who puts the ball in the cylinder. The remainder of the team are given 20 points each, so there is value to the effort. But the real goal is to be the one who scores. This can lead to a great deal of in-fighting on teams as players struggle to determine which is the real ball (the red dot is seriously small) and make sure that they are the ones to place the Game Ball in the scoring cylinder.
A great deal of cunning and strategy (not to mention a little luck) is required in this phase as the team’s players maneuver amongst themselves with the knowledge that the other team is waiting to strike at the first opportunity.
With the nine passes completed, Vioxx and Zantak were ready to move to the next phase of the game. Sizing up the situation, they…
…suddenly found themselves one ball short as Rosalyn snatched one orb out of Zantak’s hands and dashed to the nearest cylinder, neatly dodging Remax in the process.
“Prozi,” she said simply.
Vioxx turned the ball he was left holding around in his hands until he spotted the tiny red dot. “How did you know?” he gaped.
“I didn’t,” Rosalyn said. “But it was a fifty-fifty shot.”
“But…but…” Vioxx stammered.
Remax shook his head. “See? This is why you don’t play with humans.”
“You were unable to stop her!” Nortal said. “You are old and slow!”
“Now now, everyone. I didn’t come here to cause a fight,” Rosalyn said.
“A fight? By Jenechai, NO!” Nortal cried. “There will be no fight here today. Only slaughter, for in this next round, you will play by my side, and together we will crush all who oppose us!”
“Okay, dear. If you say so.”
“Fine. I’m sure three Romulans will be able to handle the powerhouse team of the insane and the infirm,” Remax said. Vioxx just groaned. “What’s your problem?” Remax demanded.
“We wanted to keep the human,” Vioxx said as Zantak nodded in agreement.
“You two are a disgrace. Do you know that?” Remax said. “Let’s just play.”
And lo, the slaughter Nortal foretold came to pass.
“Captain’s Log. Stardate 178543.4. After a rather uneventful rescue mission, we are returning to Federation space with the thirty-five-person crew of the lost Deep Space Exploration Craft Perseus. The vessel, which was in its fourteenth year of its mission, was severely damaged by what the ship’s captain insists was a giant space monster, which forced them to land on Meulopo Three, a barely habitable bog of a world. In order to give Cabral a chance to rest up for the journey home, we wandered about for a bit looking for this monster, but saw neither hide nor hair of the bugger. I have to admit I was disappointed, but it will be something for future missions to this region to keep an eye out for…if it exists. Mister Tovar and Sub-Commander Remax both maintain a healthy skepticism and chalk up the damage to the Perseus to other causes.
“Between the damage it had suffered and several days of exposure to the environment of Meulopo Three, the Perseus was a total loss. After retrieving the ship’s computer core and crew, we initiated standard Starfleet self-destruct protocols to ensure that none of our technology would fall in to the hands of anyone who happened this way. So, with the matter resolved, we are now transporting the crew of the Perseus to Waystation Prime.”
Bain switched off the log recorder and tucked it into the holder on the side of his command chair. He knew that having an actual log recorder he could hold was a beyond-antiquated notion, but he still liked the feeling of keeping a log book (even if the book in this case was really just an audio recording mechanism and storage device) rather than just hitting a button on his armrest. Also, a log recorder had come in fairly handy during his last run-in with the Kirk hologram, giving the devices something of a valued place in his heart. You just never knew when some older technology would come in handy.
With his logging duties complete, Bain settled back into his command chair and watched the stars streak by. Actually, at the speed they were going, the stars barely had time to be seen as streaks before the Anomaly was past them.
“Doesn’t make for much of a view, eh, Old Chum?” Bain observed, turning his chair back to Tovar, who was seated at the Tac-Ops console.
“I’m sorry?” Tovar replied, looking up from his readouts.
“Not much of a view.”
“No, it is not,” Tovar said. “The last couple of days of it have been fairly monotonous.”
“You could be elsewhere,” Bain said. “Go spend some time with…”
“These speeds are putting a great deal of strain on the engines, requiring constant vigilance by the Chief Engineer,” Tovar interrupted, not willing to discuss his personal life on the bridge.
“Right. Of course,” Bain said. Piss poor timing, Reginald. Piss poor. Again Bain asked himself why he’d decided to meddle in the first place. He’d been more than happy to ignore Tovar’s various dalliances before. But he knew why. Because Rosalyn would want to know what was going on with their son, and he wanted to be able to tell her.
Bain was more than grateful for the distraction as Dr. Kasyov stepped out of the turbolift onto the bridge.
“Kassie!” Bain exclaimed, leaping from his seat. “Welcome back! It’s wonderful to see you up and about. You’re well, I trust?”
“Fairly,” Kasyov replied, taking her post at the science console on the bridge’s port side. “I wanted to get back into the swing of things before we returned to Federation space and had another mission assigned to us.”
“Well, you won’t have much time. We’re closing in rapidly on Waystation Prime.”
“ETA approximately one-half hour,” Kasyov said, reading her console display.
“Yes…well…I’ll leave you to it,” Bain said, returning to his command chair. “Steady on there, Zantak.”
The Romulan officer at the helm, looked back at Bain briefly. It wasn’t so much an acknowledgment of his statement as visual scolding for making the remark in the first place.
The bridge settled into a state of quiet again, which lasted until…
The Anomaly suddenly lurched forward, the inertial dampeners unable to respond in time to prevent the bridge crew from tumbling from their seats (and in Tovar and Zantak’s cases, over their consoles) toward the viewscreen. The lights flickered rapidly, flared brightly for a moment, then went out altogether, plunging the room into darkness until the emergency lights activated, bathing the bridge in a dim hazy glow as smoke seeping out of the helm console wafted into the air.
“BLOODY HELL!” Bain shouted, climbing back to his feet. “Kasyov, what…”
But Kasyov was already on the run. With a cry of “Cabral!”, she raced behind the Tac-Ops console, threw open the jefferies tube hatch hidden there, and dove in.
Bain exchanged a glance with Tovar. “Right she is,” he said finally. “Better that she checks on Cabral. What can you tell me?”
Tovar returned to his console. “Very little. External sensors are down. Internal readings are limited.”
“None that I can detect. However, main power is offline. Life support is on emergency reserves. Comms are down as well.”
“We’ll have to go pip-to-pip for now,” Bain said, punching his commpip. With the Anomaly’s comm system down, there would be no way to direct a message to a particular person. Messages would go to every pip within range. Unfortunately, that meant that if there was a ship out there that had done this to them, there was a good chance they would be able to receive the signal as well. Bain didn’t see a way around that risk, though. They were pretty much dead in space as it was. If there was an attacker out there (which Bain highly doubted, since there hadn’t been a follow-up attack or a boarding), having their comm chatter spied upon was the least of Bain’s worries.
“Now let’s find out what the devil just happened.”
Down in Engineering, Marsden was wondering much the same thing, just with a bit less of the “what the devil” part. Figuring it out would have to wait for a few minutes, though. There was the small matter of preventing the ship from exploding to deal with first.
“It’s surging again!” Lieutenant Devix shouted from the main engineering status board above the din of multiple alarm klaxons.
“Lock it down!” Marsden called back. “Emergency containment procedures! Sever all connections to the singularity.”
“The board isn’t responding!”
“Dammit!” Marsden raced over to the singularity containment chamber, the structure of which was humming and groaning ominously. If the chamber were to give way…
No. No sense thinking about that. If the chamber gave way, she wouldn’t be around to know it, and neither would the rest of the Anomaly.
Marsden dove, sliding along the engineering deck for the last couple of feet to the panel underneath the singularity chamber. Ripping it off, she grabbed the handle for the manual initiation of emergency containment. As long as the power cell connected to the handle had not been damaged, one pull would…
Even more alarms blared as multiple layers of shielding dropped into place around the singularity core, severing all of its connections to the Anomaly’s systems.. Gradually, the klaxons died away as the singularity was encased inside several sheets of solid metal.
“Bridge to Marsden,” her pip, as well as everyone else’s in engineering, barked.
“Marsden here, Captain,” Marsden replied, getting back to her feet.
“Are you all right down there? I’ve been comming for ages!” Bain said.
“Sorry, sir. It was a bit noisy. But I’m happy to report that we are not going to explode.”
“Er…capital! Capital! Good show, Marsie. What’s our status? Give it to me straight.”
“Completely fragged, sir,” Marsden said.
“Ah. Not the news I was hoping for, but not exactly unexpected.”
“What happened, sir?”
“Haven’t the foggiest. We’ll have to deal with ourselves first then worry about who, if anyone, is out there.”
“I’m out here!” a voice chimed in.
“Who is that?” Bain demanded.
“It’s me! Fred! Fred Nooney!”
“You are not who I meant, Doctor,” Bain said.
“But I’m out here!”
“No. You’re in here. We don’t know if anyone’s out there…unless you’ve taken a nip outside to have a look. You’re not outside, are you, Nooney?”
Nooney giggled. “No! I’m in Sickbay under my desk. Is it safe to come out yet?”
“NO!” a voice that was unmistakably Nurse Ih’vik’s bellowed.
“Stay there, Doctor,” Bain said. “Now, Marsie, how are we?”
“Cabral’s okay!” Dr. Kasyov’s voice announced.
“So am I!”
“I scraped my elbow!”
“AHEM!” Bain cleared his throat loudly. “I am, of course, very pleased that we have all come through this relatively unharmed, but I am trying to see to the ship. Now, Marsie?”
“Lynn? Can you hear me, dear? Would you check to see what the holochef is fixing tonight before you come home?”
“ARE YOU QUITE FINISHED?” Bain snapped.
“Marsden?” Bain prompted.
“Yes, sir,” Marsden said. “We’ve had to lock down the singularity. It’s contained for now, but if we get too many more jolts, we may have to eject it.”
“We’ll have to make due with standard warp, then.”
“Unfortunately, no. Whatever happened to us shattered the dilithium crystals in the intermix chamber. They’re literally dust. My people are checking the shuttle and raceabout cores to see if they can salvage anything from there. Until then, we’re operating on polaron drives only, and that will be minimal, since we’re going to need to use the polaron core to power essential systems, including life-support if we can’t get enough dilithium scraped up to regulate the matter-anti-matter reaction in the intermix chamber before the emergency power cells are drained.”
“Understood,” Bain said. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, since we have not been blown up or boarded, I think we can say with relative certainty that we’re alone out here. Now Reginald Bain has never been one to cry for help, but in this particular instance, I believe that a call to the cavalry is warranted.”
“The comm system is down,” Marsden said.
“Yes, I’m aware of that, Marsie. But we are fairly close to Waystation Prime. Commander Vioxx, are you listening in?”
“Whether I want to or not,” Vioxx’s voice replied.
“Good show. As you’ve heard, Marsie needs our shuttles and raceabouts, so I want you, Sub-Commander Remax, and Centurion Nortal to take the Allegra to Waystation Prime. Tell them we need a tow.”
“With all due respect, Captain, I know we’re allies, but we might get help a bit faster if someone not Romulan who is actually in Starfleet is with us,” Vioxx said.
“A fair point. Rosalyn…”
“Absolutely not, dear,” Rosalyn Bain’s voice said. “I’m not Starfleet.”
“You teach at the Academy. That’s close enough.”
“You can’t order me around, Reginald. I am remaining here with you.”
“There’s no sense being gallant. I will not be persuaded to go.”
“I’ll go!” several dozen voices chimed in.
“Brazzell! You’re going,” Bain ordered.
“Yes, sir,” Lieutenant Bre’zan Brazzell’s voice replied. “I will commence sterilizing the Allegra immediately.”
“Our ship is clean!” Sub-Commander Remax shouted.
“Get going! All of you,” Bain said. “Brazzell, you can clean en route!”
The Mezzakkan sighed. “Yes, sir.”
“Excellent! Bain out.”
“Lynn? About the holochef…”
“He’s offline, you nimrod!” Marsden’s snapped.
“Oh…so what’s for dinner?”
“You if you don’t get off this line!”
As the Anomaly’s engineers scoured the Starfleet runabouts and shuttles for dilithium and worked to connect conduits up the polaron core to provide power to the crippled ship, Marsden herself rigged the ship’s docking bay doors with enough powerpacks yanked from tricorders and padds connected in series to get them to open for the Allegra.
After giving the Romulan scout ship’s helm a good scrubbing and disinfecting, Brazzell lifted the craft gently up from the deck and steered it out into space beyond.
“Give us a heading,” Commander Vioxx said, turning in the Allegra’s command chair toward Sub-Commander Remax seated at the science console.
“Working on it,” Remax said, checking his readouts. “This isn’t exactly our usual territory, you know.”
“And? Are you telling me this ship only has star charts for inside the Empire?”
“Of course not!” Remax shot back. “Romulan ships and probes have mapped most of this galaxy. And what we don’t have, the Federation does.”
“Great. So which way to Waystation Prime?”
“I’m working on it!”
Centurion Nortal smacked her hand down on the tactical console in front of her. “By Jenechai, you shall work faster before I light the flames of…”
“No one’s lighting anything,” Vioxx said, cutting her off.
“I have some very fresh incense,” Brazzell said, reaching for a pouch in his ever-present cleaning supplies utility belt.
“Hmmm,” Remax said.
“What? What do you want to light?”
“Dare I hope that this ‘hmmm’ has something to do with finding us a course?” Vioxx asked.
“It does…but not in a good way.”
“WE’RE lost,” Remax corrected.
“You can’t find Waystation Prime?”
“The computer cannot find Waystation Prime. Of course, I’m a little more concerned that it can’t find us either.”
“The computer has no idea where we are. It cannot get a fix on our location.”
“Oh no. No no no. What did Bain do?” Vioxx shouted.
“Commander, sensor contacts approach!” Nortal announced.
“What kind of contacts? Ships? How many?”
“Eight! Though we are tiny compared to their bulk, we must gird our loins for battle.”
“My loins aren’t going anywhere near a battle,” Remax said. “Get us out of here.”
“But the Anomaly…” Brazzell protested.
“Is a sitting barug,” Remax said. “We aren’t going to help matters by getting shot up, too.”
“We can at least warn them?”
“How? Their comm relay is down. We need to go!”
“Remax is right,” Vioxx said. “Take us away.”
“Where to?” Brazzell asked.
“Whatever direction those ships are coming from, go the exact opposite,” Vioxx said. “Maximum warp.”
“Aye, sir,” Brazzell said, shaking his head as he obeyed the command and sent the Allegra into warp, hoping all the while that whomever was heading toward the Anomaly would spare his cabin. He’d just gotten the place cleaned..
“I feel bloody useless up here,” Bain said, pacing the bridge in front of his command chair.
“If it is any consolation, I am doing equally little,” Tovar replied.
“I should be in engineering lending a hand.”
“You know how Lieutenant Marsden feels about that, sir. You are to remain thirty feet away from engineering during all crises.”
“It was one bit of rewiring.”
“We fired a torpedo every time a replicator activated. The lunch rush alone took out half of McKinley Station.”
“I know, lad. To be honest, I’m better at removing wires than connecting them.”
“You do bring destruction to an art form at times.”
“It’s in the genes,” Bain said. “Anything yet?”
“Console readings are still quite limited.”
“Bugger!” His gaze fell on Sub-Lieutenant Zantak. “At least one of us doesn’t mind the inactivity.” The Romulan woman was dozing, her hands steepled in front of her as a soft snore emanated from her half-open lips.
Bain resumed his pacing. “Right. Engineering’s out, but maybe we could…”
He was knocked to the deck by a sudden jolt. “Bloody hell! What now?”
“I don’t know,” Tovar said, picking himself back up as Zantak, who had been rudely thrown from her chair and out of her nap, did the same.
“We’re moving!” Bain exclaimed.
“Are you sure? I don’t feel…”
But Bain was already on the move, forcing the doors to the ready room…or what would have been his ready room if Bain wanted one. For a while, it had served as Commander Prosak’s quarters. Currently, though, it was an office shared by Prosak and Commander Vioxx. Bain was more interested in one of the room’s other features: the window. An unmistakable glow was cascading in from outside.
“Tractor beams!” Bain said, rushing over to the window and craning his neck to try to get a look at… “Blast! I can’t see whoever these blighters are.”
“Could Waystation Prime have sent help already?” Tovar asked.
“I think they would have beamed aboard first to let us know, my boy,” Bain said. “No. We’re in somebody else’s clutches here, and until we can get our systems back online, we have no choice but to go along for the ride.” The captain smiled slightly. “Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to sit on our bums and do nothing. Distribute phasers to the crew. If these bastards try to come aboard once they get us to wherever we’re headed, we’ll give them a what for they won’t soon forget!”
What had started out as a “hmmm” had steadily advanced toward more of a “grrrr” as the Allegra made its way toward…well, the crew didn’t know really, which was the source of Remax’s growing frustration. After a particularly loud grunt, Remax spun around to face his commanding officer.
“There’s nothing out there.”
“What do you mean? You said a minute ago that you detected at least nine star systems,” Commander Vioxx replied.
“Well, you can make that at most too. We’ve got nine stars, seven of which have solar systems. Beyond that there’s nothing.”
“For how far?”
“You’re not getting it. There is nothing. I can’t get a reading. Look at the damn viewscreen? Do you see a distant starfield out there?”
Now that Remax mentioned it, space did seem rather…black.
“Where are we?” Vioxx said softly.
“I already told you, I don’t know!” Remax snapped.
“It was a rhetorical question. But this doesn’t make any sense. We can’t be nowhere.”
Remax grunted again. “Of course we’re not nowhere. It’s like we’re inside a jamming field, except in this case, everything inside the field is perfectly visible, but everything outside is obscured. We just need to find the extent of its range. Then we’ll be able to get a fix on where we are.”
“If you say so,” Vioxx replied.
“What do you mean, ‘if you say so’? Do you have any better ideas?”
“No. Not particularly.”
“Then shut up and fly. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve got the better end of this deal. The Anomaly could be debris by now.”
“Hey!” Lieutenant Brazzell protested.
Remax ignored him. “And we also didn’t have to bring Bain’s wife along, which is a big plus.”
“What’s wrong with Mrs. Bain?” Brazzell said. “She a sweet lady. Very neat.”
“Frankly, and if you ever repeat this I’ll shove that spray can of yours so far up your ass you can clean and disinfect your own colon, she gives me the creeps.”
Vioxx laughed. “That old lady? That old HUMAN lady?”
“You saw her play juoni ball.”
“She and I created a force unlike any the universe has ever known!” Nortal exclaimed. “Our combined might laid waste to your pathetic attempts at resistance! Your efforts to score were futile! OUR VICTORY WAS AT HAND!!!”
“Err…yes. That’s kind of my point,” Remax said. “It was just…wrong.”
“No. You’re a sore loser,” Vioxx said.
“Mark my words, Vioxx. That woman is dangerous!”
“Next time she bakes an apple pie, I’ll watch for the explosives.”
“She bakes pie as well? The woman is a goddess!” Nortal cried.
Remax shook his head. “You just wait.”
“It’s official. When she kills you both, I’m going to laugh. A lot.”
The Anomaly’s bridge was useless at the moment, but Captain Bain was not about to leave it undefended. While Tovar descended into the ship and supervised the distribution of phaser rifles, Bain remained on the bridge…well, in the no-longer-a-ready room really, keeping watch for some glimpse at whomever was towing his ship. From the glow of multiple tractor beams holding his ship, he had been able to determine that more than one craft was involved. That complicated matters. He had great faith in his crew, but superior numbers would be tough to overcome, even on their own turf.
Tovar rejoined him some time later. No sooner had the Yynsian arrived than the Anomaly and its escorts dropped out of warp inside a solar system.
“This may very well be it, lad,” Bain said as the Anomaly was pulled into orbit over a beautiful blue-green world. “At least we’ll have a nice view as we go.” He checked the setting on his rifle. “Posts.”
Bain and Tovar rushed back onto the bridge proper and took up defensive stations behind the Tac-Ops console. From its position at the rear of the bridge, Bain and Tovar would be able to defend the entire room while enjoying the protection of the console’s housing.
“This is Bain,” the captain said, pinching his commpip. “The hordes may be descending on us soon. Steady, everyone. Keep to your cover and give them no quarter. I’ll be buying the survivors drinks when this is all over. Bain out.” He pinched his pip again, closing the channel.
“Survivors?” Tovar said.
“Too grim?” Bain replied.
“Blast. These inspiring speeches can be dodgy things, Tovar.” He clapped his hand on his adopted son’s shoulder. “I’m just glad that I’ll have you by my side during this.”
“We both are,” a quite familiar feminine voice said from behind them. Rosalyn Bain, phaser rifled crooked under her arm, was hoisting herself up into the bridge from the jefferies tube hatch behind Bain and Tovar.
“Dearest!” Bain exclaimed. “You shouldn’t be here!”
“And why not?” Rosalyn demanded taking up a position on the other side of Tovar. “If my husband and son are about to go into battle, I have every right to be there with them.”
“Yes, but…” Bain trailed off. In truth, he didn’t have anything to go after his “but.” If he was honest with himself, he got a little bit of a thrill seeing his wife of so many years, rifle in hand, ready to take on the universe.
“Right! This will be a family affair!” he said. “Let’s give them…”
“…a good what for,” Rosalyn said grinning. “Yes, we know, dear.”
“Grown predictable have I?”
“Wonderfully consistent, my love,” Rosalyn replied.
“Mum. Dad. Please,” Tovar said.
“Sorry, son. You’ll just have to accept that your mum and I are still rather love struck,” Bain said.
“The invaders are arriving,” Tovar said, trying to keep the relief out of his voice as five transporter beams coalesced in the center of the bridge. The Bains and Tovar opened fire as soon as the transport was complete, dropping two of the unwelcome newcomers in an instant.
“Sorry, mum,” Tovar said. “I didn’t know you’d selected the same target I had.”
“No trouble, dearie.”
The three remaining aliens were a blur of motion, diving for cover behind the conn and the command chair. Bain and Tovar laid down a volley of suppression fire as Rosalyn waited patiently for one of the invaders to show himself. All three were tense, waiting for the return of weapons fire.
It wasn’t coming.
There was, however, a lot of shouting going on.
Bain exchanged a glance with Tovar. “Hold your fire a tic,” he said. The phaser rifles fell silent, allowing them to hear.
“Woah! WOAH! Stop! Captain! STOP! PLEASE! THANK YOU!” The being hiding in front of the command chair got to his feet.
“Bloody hell!” Bain shouted.
“He’s been saying that a lot today,” Tovar whispered to Rosalyn.
“I can see why,” Rosalyn said, stunned at the sight of the being in front of her. He was white. Very white. Paler than should have been possible with a full head of midnight blue hair.
“You’re a bloody Multek!” Bain said.
“I will be if you don’t stop trying to kill me,” the Multek replied.
Tovar’s phaser rifle hit the floor. He stared blankly ahead of them. “But they… They…”
“It’s okay, dear,” Rosalyn said, putting her own weapon down and putting her arms around Tovar.
Multeks. Twenty years earlier they had vanished. Completely. Planets and everything. And they’d taken Tovar’s parents, who were vacationing in the Multek Enclave at the time, with them. Tovar had been left in a Starfleet Scouts camp on Waystation Prime. If Reginald Bain hadn’t been volunteering as a camp counselor… Tovar didn’t know what would have happened. But now he was looking at a Multek and possibly answers about his parents. The prospect was overwhelming. His mind reeled and instinctively his consciousness fled deep into the swirling maelstrom of the past lives sharing his life force.
“I must cook for them!” Tovar cried.
“Not now, Toflay,” Rosalyn said. “Get Tovar back here.”
“Safe!” the referee or umpire or whatever he was shouted.
“He’ll be safe out here, too.”
“Mum?” Tovar said softly.
“I’m here. We both are.”
“No…Mum. My real mum. And Dad, too. Does he know where they are?”
“We’ll ask him,” Rosalyn said.
“What the devil is going on here?” Bain said, striding out from behind the console. “You lot vanish for two decades then show back up and blast the hell out of my ship!”
“We did not attack you, Captain. Actually, your appearance is a big surprise to us.”
The Multek’s eyes widened in shock. “How did you know my name?”
“What?” Bain said.
“I am Bollux, Captain of the Goobly.”
“Oh. I…see. Reginald Bain. Captain of the USS Anomaly,” Bain said, grabbing the Multek’s hand and shaking it firmly. “Now how about telling us what all this is about.”
“Our Frequoq would like to do just that. Once we detected your arrival in our space, she sent us out to meet you and bring you back to Multos. She is waiting below if you’d like to transport down with me.”
“Try and stop me,” Bain said.
“Captain!” Tovar said, coming back to himself. “I would like to accompany you.”
Bain hesitated a moment. Taking his Chief of Security with him would be a matter of course in normal circumstances, but these circumstances were far from normal. There were bigger issues to consider than Tovar’s lost parents. They had to stay focused on the Anomaly and it’s crew. They…
Dammit to hell! This was Tovar. If the answers the boy had waited for over half his life to get were this close, Bain was not about to stand in his way.
“Right you are,” Bain said, waving him over. “Rosalyn, be a dear and tell Commander Prosak to have the crew stand down from red alert and that she has the conn.”
“Of course, darling,” Rosalyn said with a nod. For a brief moment, she had thought of asking to go along as well. She wanted to be there for Tovar certainly, but being this close to a possible explanation for the Multeks’ disappearance, a mystery that had confounded even Section 31, was incredibly tantalizing. But that would never do. She was a civilian now, and this was Starfleet’s affair. Reginald and Tovar could handle things. And if something were to happen, she may very well have the best chance to assist them from the Anomaly…assuming, of course, that Shelly Marsden was able to get some systems up and running. “Hurry back.”
“Won’t be a moment,” Bain replied as Tovar joined him. “We’re off to see the Frequoq.” He gave Bollux a nod, and the group vanished in a flurry of molecules.
“We’re coming up on the edge of the phenomenon. We should be passing through it shortly,” Remax reported from the Allegra’s science console. “I’m also getting power readings from a Class M world in a nearby system.”
“Ships?” Vioxx asked concerned.
“None I can see,” Remax said.
“Good. I would prefer to slip out of whatever this is without…”
“STOP!” Remax shouted.
“What? I was just saying…”
“STOP THE SHIP!”
Brazzell didn’t wait for Vioxx to confirm the order. Remax’s tone of near panic was enough to have his hands flying across the conn console, bringing the Allegra to an abrupt halt.
“Are we discovered?” Nortal asked, steadying herself against her console.
“Remax?” Vioxx said as he shifted his rear end, which had just been thrown forward, to the back of his chair.
“I don’t like these readings,” Remax said.
“What about them?”
“We’re right at the end of this jamming field. The extent of its effect. I should be seeing something of normal space by now.”
“Maybe it’s a really good jamming field.”
“To block a sensor scan at full strength right up next to it? That’s more than good. And look out there!” Remax said, pointing at the viewscreen. Instead of the flat blackness Vioxx would expect, the darkness ahead of them seemed to be almost shimmering. Maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him, but there were hints of a dark purple sheen to it.
“That’s just wrong,” Remax continued.
“We’re…trapped?” Brazzell asked hesitantly.
“We don’t know that yet,” Vioxx replied. “Take us right up to the edge. Close as you can. Remax…”
“I’ll scan it again, but I don’t think it will help.”
The Allegra inched forward (in cosmic terms. I wouldn’t try to walk the distance they traveled. Certainly not in space. You’d die. Er…moving on…), Brazzell easing the vessel to a much more gentle stop a short time later. The darkly-purple blackness on the viewscreen did not seem to have changed at all. And neither had Remax’s analysis…or lack thereof.
“No. I’m not getting anything. It’s like there’s a solid wall in front of us.”
“Then we shall break it down!” Nortal cried, slamming her hand down on the disrupter controls. “The might of my sacred fire shall burst forth, carving a door through which our righteousness may pass, for I am the keymaster!”
“Don’t!” Remax and Vioxx screamed.
But it was far too late.
Disrupter beams lanced out of the Allegra, slamming into the barrier in front of them, which did indeed appear to be quite solid. The area the disrupters hit glowed and crackled as Nortal continued sending a steady stream of deadly energy at it. This went on for several seconds until the barrier decided it had had enough, at least as much as it could decide such things. Or maybe there was just no more room at the inn. Either way, the energy buildup was suddenly returned to sender, surging up the path of the disrupter beams and into the Allegra.
Systems overloaded around the ship. For the four officers on board, it was like what had happened to the Anomaly all over again, only with a lot more sparking and shouting.
“Report!” Vioxx shouted over the chaos.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Brazzell replied.
“A different report!”
“Power is fluctuating,” Remax said. “Automatic systems are attempting to compensate, and… There go the automatic compensation systems. We’re losing power!”
“Get us to that planet!” Vioxx ordered.
“What?” Remax demanded as Brazzell fought the helm and brought the ship around.
“You said it was Class M. I’d rather be breathing there than dead in space here.”
“I hope it’s clean air,” Brazzell said. “I didn’t come prepared for going outside.”
“You want to stay on board?” Remax said.
“No! I’m all for breathing. Assuming…” Brazzell trailed off.
“Assuming what?” Vioxx asked.
“Assuming we survive the landing.”
“I had to ask.”
Considering how this whole experience had started out, wandering around a well-appointed office with a spectacular view of an…unusual city-scape was the last place Reginald Bain expected to be. When his ship was that badly damaged, usually a firefight of some kind ensued. Instead he was looking out at an odd cross between a metropolis and an amusement park. Vehicles whipped along twisting looping tracks running between sleek shiny skyscrapers. In the distance, he could make out another series of loops that made his stomach churn just looking at them.
Tovar, meanwhile, hadn’t paid much attention to the view. He’d been pacing anxiously, shooting glances at the door or at the computer terminal visible on the office’s absent owner’s desk.
Fortunately before Tovar gave into his urge to attack the computer system for information, the office doors opened admitting Captain Bollux and a female Multek. The woman was middle-aged and slightly heavyset, and she smiled broadly as she entered the room like some kind of Multek Mrs. Claus. Bain imagined that if her skin wasn’t so white, she’d have rosy cheeks.
“Captain Bain,” she said, extending her hand to Bain as she strode over to him. “This is certainly an unexpected pleasure. I’m Frequoq Wurlitz. Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“Madam Frequoq,” Bain said with a slight bow of his head as he returned the handshake. “The pleasure’s all mine, but I’ll certainly agree with you on the unexpected part. Pardon my directness, but where the devil have you lot been for the last twenty years?”
“And where are my parents?” Tovar demanded, drawing a confused look from Wurlitz.
“This is Lieutenant Commander Tovar, my Tac-Ops officer,” Bain explained. “The lad’s got something of a personal stake in all of this. His mum and dad vanished with the rest of you.”
“They were here?” Wurlitz said, obviously surprised by this piece of news. “I thought we’d insisted on no families,” she added to no one in particularly. “If your parents are here, Mister Tovar, I’m sure that we’ll be able to locate them. The Multek Enclave is only so big.”
“It was big enough to cause quite a stir when it disappeared,” Bain said.
“I’m sure. As I’m also sure that you have a lot of questions.”
“I do, but frankly, Madam Frequoq…”
“Wurlitz, please. Madam Frequoq is so formal.”
“Wurlitz it is then. And please call me Reg. As I was saying, I do have questions, but right now, I’m more concerned about my ship. We took quite a beating on the way here.”
“I’m certain we can help with repairs. We integrated enough Starfleet technology into our ships over the years that we should have some compatible parts.”
“Wonderful!” Bain said, clapping his hands together. He’d had a good feeling about Wurlitz from the moment she’d stepped into the office. Planetary leaders and politicians could be a real pain to deal with much of the time, but Wurlitz was a solid as they come.
“There’s no hurry, of course,” Wurlitz continued. “Since you and your crew won’t be leaving us.”
Suddenly, Bain wasn’t quite as fond of her.
To Be Continued…